North Tel Aviv Car Bomb May Have Been Extortion

Police are working to determine who was behind the attempt on the life of a Tel Aviv club owner whose car blew up yesterday at around 6 P.M. Ziv Shaya, who together with partners owns a number of popular Tel Aviv clubs, had just gotten into his car in the underground parking lot of his apartment building in the upscale neighborhood of New Ramat Aviv. However, when he heard a strange noise, he said, he quickly got out, which saved his life.

A few seconds later, what police said was a small explosive charge went off, likely a fragmentation grenade that had been attached to his car. The car, an Alpha Romeo, caught fire after the explosion and was completely burned, however Shaya escaped without a scratch.

The explosion was heard clearly throughout the neighborhood, although most people said they thought it was a plane taking off at the nearby Sde Dov airport. Within minutes, large forces of police and rescue personnel flooded Arthur Rubinstein St., where Shaya lives.

After police sappers determined that no other explosive charge had been placed in the parking garage, firefighters set to work putting out the blaze started by the explosion. Police also evacuated the apartment building above the garage. A special investigative team of the Yarkon district police, headed by Chief Superintendent Yaakov Getenio, then began to interview Shaya and his associates to try to determine a motive for the attack.

Police sappers also checked the Mercedes belonging to an associate of Shaya's who arrived on the scene after he heard the explosion.

A woman who lives in Shaya's building said she heard the explosion from her apartment and came down to the garage to find Shaya standing near his car, shouting in apparent fear.

About two weeks ago, the entrance to the parking lot was vandalized and a number of cars were damaged. Police are investigating whether there is any connection between that incident and yesterday's explosion.

Shaya told the police at the scene, and later in a more extensive interview at the station, that he had not been threatened or extorted and could not think of any reason for the attack. Nevertheless, police said they believed the attack was an attempt to extort protection money or that Shaya was involved in a dispute with a business partner.

A Tel Aviv police official said yesterday that it was unclear whether the attack was meant to kill Shaya or as a warning.

Shaya is one of four owners of some of Tel Aviv's most popular clubs, among them Clara near the Dolphinarium and Lehman Brothers, a bar at the Tel Aviv port. He is mainly known as the clubs' money manager.